Jehovah’s Witnesses Resume Public Ministry Two Years After Going Virtual
If you happen to be on Route 13 near the Painter flea market this week, you may notice that a pre-pandemic fixture is back on the sidewalks: smiling faces standing next to colorful carts featuring a positive message and free Bible-based literature.
Thousands of these carts will be rolling down the streets of communities like Painter all across the world this week as Jehovah’s Witnesses recommence their global public preaching work some 24 months after putting it on pause due to the pandemic.
“When I first heard we were going back to the public ministry, I got really excited and nervous at the same time,“ said Deena Weatherly. “I knew any nervousness about returning would pass quickly as I reflected on all the good experiences we had at the carts before the pandemic”.
The Christian organization will return to its public ministry for the first time since March 2020 when all in-person forms of their volunteer work were suspended out of concern for the health and safety of the community.
In response to the global decision, the Exmore congregation is now beginning to reopen their cart locations at the Painter flea market and outside the Cape Charles Memorial Library.
Local congregants will also resume free in-person Bible studies along with personal visits to those who have invited them back to their homes. This comes two months after the organization began gathering at their Kingdom Halls once again for in-person meetings.
“While we understand that the pandemic is not over, we’re entering into a phase of learning to live with COVID,” said Robert Hendriks, U.S. spokesperson for Jehovah’s Witnesses. “That means we need to find more ways to personally interact with our neighbors. Being out in the community and having conversations with our neighbors is accomplishing that goal.”
Mobile displays of Bible-based literature have been part of Jehovah’s Witnesses’ public ministry in the U.S. since 2011. While “cart witnessing” began in large metropolitan areas around the world, the practice quickly spread to the tens of thousands of smaller communities, becoming a fixture in rail and bus stations, airports, harbors and main streets. Witnesses in Northampton County also began offering a selection of Bible-based literature at the carts in 2011, during the morning commute and on weekends to be accessible to community members.
“People who are appreciative of the message can feel free to approach and obtain literature about topics that interest them,” said Weatherly. “We’ve enjoyed good conversations with some who have stopped by specifically because they saw the cart display.”
To learn more about Jehovah’s Witnesses, their history, beliefs and activities, visit their official website jw.org, featuring content in more than 1,000 languages.